Jason Schachat's Weekly Breakdown
I'll never grow up to be Batman...
November 19, 2004, page 2
week, Jason wrote so danged much we had to break it down
into parts to save our sanity and his.
page 1 if you missed it.
were only one fanboy joy to be found in time travel stories,
it would be seeing how things turn out in superheroes’
futures. Who dies, who gets married, who goes bad, who takes
up the mantle. Teen Titans #18
has that in spades.
Building on last
month’s revelation that half the team become villains
in the future, the story twists again by revealing that
the future Flash is a double agent for the less homicidal
half of the Titans. Most of the Teen team escape their dark
counterparts’ grasp when Deathstroke breaks free from
their torture chamber, but Robin is captured and given a
tour of a local graveyard by the future Batman.
still a little pissed at Geoff Johns for his continued attempts
to push Batman from paranoid control freak to downright
a**hole, but I’m proud of the man for reaffirming
that the Dark Knight would never become a murderer. You
also have to love the assorted headstones that foretell
the fates of Bruce Wayne “Beloved Husband” and
Carrie Kelly (Robin in The Dark Knight Returns).
like these, the re-habilitation of Deathstroke’s daughter
Rose, the demonizing of Raven, and the possible resurrection
of Donna Troy that make this issue pull all of a fanboy’s
heartstrings. You can’t help but love Mike McKone’s
clean superhero art, and I just busted up when I saw how
much future Cyborg resembles his current television counterpart.
starting to regret getting involved in Terra Obscura
volume 2. It would have been soooo damn easy to just
call it quits when the first series petered out, but some
perverse force (other than Yanick Paquette’s pinup
quality superheroines) called me back. I’m really
wishing I screened that call…
Obscura v.2 #4 of 6 starts us off with a small
battle between the members of S.M.A.S.H. still defending
the Earth and the Tsunami Squad, a band of Japanese villains
who sank the Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor on December 7,
1941 and are back to do the same today. The fight wraps
up with a sudden exit on the part of the villains, and we
then find ourselves thrust into Tom Strange’s quest
to recover Captain Future’s damaged spaceship.
of surprises, the Terror has launched his own spaceship
to take out Strange and capture the rocket and all its time
travel secrets for himself. Of course, he also drags along
an unwilling Miss Masque, comfortably shackled to the ceiling
of a shrine made in her honor. Tom and the lovely Pantha
(who looks more like Jennifer Connelly than ever) take the
sudden appearance of the Terror’s ship as a good sign,
at first, but things quickly change after he fires that
death ray at them.
artwork here is as gorgeous and buxom as ever, but, honestly,
why did Alan Moore start this project up? Was Terra Obscura
such a fascinating chapter of Tom Strong that we needed
multiple miniseries? I’ve appreciated some moments
in the story, but, when you consider that Tom Strong continued
Moore’s work on Supreme (rebuilding the superhero),
isn’t it ironic that Paul Hogan’s Terra
Obscura echoes Watchmen more closely than
any other work since?
when I say that, it’s not a compliment. This series
deconstructs superheroes pretty viciously with the continued
rampage of the Terror, and Tom Strange comes off as little
more than a meathead. However, the stories lack the amazing
plotting that made Watchmen a classic. The “Science
Heroes” of Terra Obscura are superheroes in all but
name and don’t even have the nostalgic quality of
Tom Strong and company. If there’s any joy on Terra
Obscura, I’ve yet to find it.
Spider-Man #69 treats us to a feel-good team-up
between Spidey and the Human Torch, following last issue’s
debacle when Johnny accidentally stuck his hand in a bonfire
and “flamed-on”. Having given up on school,
dating Liz, and any hope of a more normal life, Johnny drops
out and asks Peter and M.J. to have Liz meet him at a nearby
playground to talk. Unfortunately, M.J. knows Liz will never
show, but what if Peter were to slap on his Spidey-jammies
and give Johnny a pep talk?
issue is a great example of Brian Michael Bendis and Mark
Bagley working together to deliver an involving story that’s
heartfelt, humorous, and even a little exciting. Johnny
and Spidey’s talk is almost a reverse of the heart-to-heart
they had in Ultimate Spider-Man Super Special #1
(which, technically, never happened due to the messed up
continuity of the Ultimate Fantastic Four) that serves to
boost Johnny’s morale while giving Peter some reason
to resume his duties as Spider-Man (though he’s still
issue’s Doctor Strange team-up promises to destroy
Ultimate Universe continuity once again (Ultimate Marvel
Team-Up, you’ll never know the damage you’ve
caused…), but this issue will energize readers after
the murky territory of the last couple issues. It’s
a good book for the money that’ll leave you happy.
Vaughan’s run on Ultimate X-Men has scared
me, at times. Say what you will about the goofy things Mark
Millar and Bendis did when they were scripting the book,
but Vaughan has managed, in his short run, to bring Mr.
Sinister, Apocalypse, and Gambit into the Ultimate Universe.
Next month, he’s dusting off Longshot.
isn’t it? But, somehow, he’s made it work. Ultimate
X-Men #53 avoids the common pitfall of wrapping
everything up with a fistfight and instead injects a few
dozen doses of conflict into the story. The team bickers
all along the way to rescue Rogue, Iceman swatting away
Kitty Pryde as he continues to fool himself into thinking
Rogue’s his true love. Wolverine trudges to the rescue
as only he can and takes out Gambit before Rogue can confess
she has feelings for the Cajun. Still, that doesn’t
prevent her from chewing Wolvie out and fracturing the careful
emotional balance that keeps him with the team.
strength of these last two arcs has been Vaughan’s
love for old school X-Men. It may also be the greatest weakness.
Oh, I’m not complaining. His bad girl characterization
of Dazzler is as interesting as the character’s ever
been. The way he’s dealt with Rogue and Gambit gets
a big thumbs up from me, and, man, it’s fun to see
these teenagers act their age for once!
also means it isn’t hard to see where plotlines are
headed. Mark Millar surprised us when Jean Grey slept with
Wolvie before hooking up with Cyclops, and that really shook
up the tired old love triangle. Rogue going for Gambit?
It’s the curse of all Ultimate books: repeating what’s
come before (I already fear that Dazzler will hook up with
Longshot next month). But Vaughan’s managed to keep
the team fresh enough and create enough drama to make this
book a good buy. Andy Kubert’s work isn’t quite
up to snuff, but I get a feeling we’ll be longing
for it when Stuart Immonen takes over art duties. Still,
I’m a fan.
I’m not a fan of Vampirella or Witchblade, so it probably
wasn’t the best idea for me to get Vampirella/Witchblade:
Union of the Damned. Certain books appeal
to certain people, and, sometimes you just have to accept
that your tastes are different. And I do. But, in the meantime,
this book did suck.
to hell (literally) when Witchblade and her cop buddies
are interrogating a little girl who’s been carrying
a severed head around the city. Her “mother”
arrives and coats the walls of the interrogation room with
blood, prompting Vampirella to show up so all the girls
can be transported to the underworld. The occasion? Why,
Vampi’s going to marry the son of Satan, of course!
Too bad she doesn’t know it.
So, why should
you get this book? Good question. Damn good question. Well,
if you go for seeing busty hotties plowing through ranks
of demons with their bladelike hands, leaving them covered
in the blood and entrails of their enemies… well,
even then it isn’t that good. The story is shallow,
the humor is labored, and the art is boring. The only thing
worse than buying this book is buying the alternate covers
at three times the price. I can’t be certain, but
I think even Vampirella and Witchblade fans would agree
this isn’t worth the walk to the store.
on the heels of last week’s The Walking Dead #12,
The Walking Dead #13 staggers
into the light with a new arc and a great jumping-on point.
Following their expulsion from the one place our heroes
have been with both plentiful food AND non-deceased residents,
the weary travelers come upon a remote penitentiary that
promises enough security and canned goods to keep them alive
this is actually #12, but just posting a Walking
Dead cover causes Jason to tremble with girlish
However, as is
always the case, the potential home is infested with zombies,
and a massive firefight breaks out as hordes of shambling
corpses leak out the doors of the prison. After securing
the outer yards, the group beds down for the night, keeping
their guard up for wandering zombies but generally settling
in to the idea of having a safe home at last. Though that
may change after they discover what’s locked inside
the depths of the prison…
this book is good. This outing gives us zombie guts flying
left and right, but what scares us most are the quiet moments,
and there are plenty of them. The perspective shifts around
the group, taking in the kids playing a game of go-fish
while their parents sweep through the prison, Rick’s
wife Lori coping with her pregnancy and the horrifying notion
of bringing life into this dead world, and the teenagers’
continued preparations for rebellion.
it’s hard to find a comic with better drama than The
Walking Dead. It scares you with the simple implication
that death lurks around every corner, yet, despite that,
puts the characters and their everyday problems on center
stage. If Kirkman could write everything he does like this,
he’d be the new Alan Moore and then some.
year’s Wildstorm Winter Special
reminds us why we started reading their comics in the first
place: mouth-watering art. Divided into four separate short
stories, this 40 page (not counting ads) oneshot showcases
Josh Middleton (recently of NYX), Cary Nord (Conan),
Scott Iwahashi (cover artist for iCandy), and Carlos
D’Anda (Stormwatch) and their four completely
different yet delicious styles.
written by Bruce Jones tells a tale in the early history
of WildC.A.T.s, when Sister Zealot was still a young warrior
on the Kheran homeworld. At her coming of age, she must
do as all immortal Kherans and try to conceive a child (only
one in a thousand Kheran women can conceive, and only one
of those babies will live through the birth). However, Zealot
desires nothing more than the life of a warrior, so what
will she do when pregnancy forces her to abandon that life?
Tom Peyer gives
Cary Nord plenty of space to scrawl “Two Dangerous
Ideas”, an Authority tale of a depressing idea so
powerful that merely hearing it will drive you to suicide.
Apollo and The Midnighter are visited by alternate versions
of themselves (named Pluto and Daylighter) who foretell
of the carnage this idea has spread before reaching their
reality. But how do you stop an idea?
Not content to
leave us with just one Authority story, Will Pfeifer pens
“Small World, After All” so we can have our
daily dose of Jack Hawksmoor. This short revolves around
a washed up super-villain Walt Disney who invents a device
that allows him to travel through the dimensional barrier
known as the Bleed. Jack pursues him as best he can, but
when one of the doors opens to an amusement park world bent
to the will of the evil animator, it looks like his luck
may have run out.
outing to a close is Allen Warner and Carlos D’Anda’s
“Deathblow Gets Dusted”, a weak story of the
uber-soldier’s run in with a hallucinogen-breathing
mummy. He hallucinates, sees dead children, chases the mummy
through South American ruins, and hallucinates some more.
However, the extremely sparse narrative is saved by D’Anda’s
exciting layouts and Carrie Strachan’s edgy color
in all, I’d say the Wildstorm Winter Special
is worth the five dollar price tag based on the art alone.
Middleton’s characters are exciting and unique, making
what could otherwise be a boring twist in WildC.A.T.s continuity
an important chapter in the saga. Cary Nord’s dirty
stylings (much like his work on Conan) give Tom
Peyer’s foolish tongue-in-cheek story more life than
it deserves, and Scott Iwahashi’s lines have all the
twisted joy of a Ralph Bakshi film.
If you want solid,
powerful writing, this isn’t the book for you. That
said, it looks gorgeous. Recommended.
Review of the Week
me about the snow rabbits, Victor...
S” sent me an email request a couple weeks back for
“more Batman”, probably in response to our lack
of coverage for the months-long “War Games”
crossover. Well, Mike, never fear! We’re back on the
case, and, just to show you how serious we are, this week
we’re looking at the oft ignored but nonetheless Bat-tastic
Batman: Gotham Knights.
Okay, maybe not
Gotham Knights #59 finds Batman held at gunpoint
by Mr. Freeze, then flashes back a few times to show us
how we got here. Turns out Frosty has a thing against summer
and has constructed new weapons he calls “Icicle Bombs”
to freeze the city. Unfortunately, the largest one blew
up and set the building on fire, forcing Freeze to make
an igloo around himself and the captured Batman. Though,
with the igloo melting in the blaze, who’s to say
they have a chance of making it through this alive?
to say, this script isn’t Bat-tastic (though I am
getting hooked on that word). Robbie Morrison does the same
misinterpretation of character that made his
take on The Authority so painful. Freeze is
too emotional, by far. Batman spends most of his time cracking
jokes and the rest of it looking sort of grim, but it isn’t
until the end that he displays any ingenuity. Of course,
that ingenuity is so over the top, even the most hardcore
Bat-fan will roll their eyes.
from being the purest Bat-title to come out this week (and,
yeah, I’ll stop hyphenating the word “Bat”),
the main reason I chose Batman: Gotham Knights
was to see Walking Dead artist Charlie Adlard in
action on a color book. Suprisingly, the results are superior
to most of his work on the aforementioned title. Adlard’s
pseudo-realistic style drinks up colors far better than
graytones, and the book is filled with an edginess that
almost makes up for the utter lack of tension in the script.
not quite. The good news is that this issue’s a oneshot.
The bad news is it’s as captivating as a coupon book.
Detective Comics regularly does this sort of story
far better, and I’d advise anyone looking for a quick
Batman fix to look there instead.
if there’s a book you want to see reviewed, let us
a line in the fanboy forums, and we’ll do our damndest
to hunt your book down.
Predictions for Next Week: Adam Strange #3, Daredevil
#67, Invincible #17, Sleeper Season Two #6, and Supreme
last look at Spider-Man Japan...